Wildcat Tracks: Amy Selby ’05
“I loved my time at Westminster. The teachers and staff created a truly nurturing environment—a place to grow and grow deeply because you knew it was safe to explore,” says Amy Selby. And grow she did! From performing in high school choir and musicals to singing professionally, Selby has come a long way, especially from the early days. “When I was little, I sang in plays at school and in church choirs. I wasn’t serious about music, but I enjoyed singing,” she said. “My first solo public performance was supposed to be when I was eleven years old. I was going to sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to a track with my dance company. I had the dress, the red shoes, and a basket with a stuffed dog. I walked out on stage, looked at all the people, then walked right off again! That was my first stage fright experience, but college knocked most of that out of me!”
Selby went on to have roles in The Music Man, Quilters, and Cinderella while at Westminster. She credits several teachers at the time with making made an impact on her life. “Don Tiemeier was my art teacher, he trusted me and gave me opportunities to produce artwork for things like play programs and sets for the drama department. We even started Art Club together! Don is a good family friend now, I visit him when I visit my parents in Florida,” she said. “Susan Pike was probably every student’s favorite teacher in tenth grade. She was an advisor, a confidant, and a mentor at a time in every teenager’s life when they wanted to reach out to someone older and wiser but weren’t as eager to reach out to their own parents. Others such as Mrs. Bye, Mr. Belz, and Mr. Holley taught me about words, creative writing, and of course, The Awful Eight.”
After high school, Selby attended Truman State, graduating with a bachelor of music in vocal performance degree. While there, she decided to focus on opera, “I didn’t really know what opera was until I was cast in the chorus of my first production—Così fan tutte. I already loved musicals, but this was such an all-encompassing art form—orchestra, costumes, lights, chorus, soloists, sets, languages. It really engaged my interest and intellect.”
Selby continued on to Michigan State University, finishing there with a master’s degree in vocal performance. She married her husband, Duncan, in 2013 and the couple moved to California with his new job. Once there, Selby traveled the state auditioning for opportunities, participating in OperaWorks and teaching privately. A move to Austin, Texas brought work with the Austin Opera Chorus and One Ounce Opera companies.
Selby has now been singing professionally for about twelve years. “The life of a young, freelance performing artist is filled with both feast and famine. Seasons generally run September through May, each fall you audition for the next season or two in advance while entering various competitions. Some years you make everything, other times you make nothing for a year or two. I have been blessed with coaches and instructors who encourage me to push through the dry times to try and try again. A career as an opera singer looks completely different for each singer. Most of us will never sing at the Metropolitan Opera House or Carnegie Hall, but that doesn’t mean we can’t succeed as a local or regional singer. I’m still on the cusp of a career that looks the way I want it to, but in the meantime, I have had plenty of wonderful experiences while still working toward pursuing bigger opportunities.”
She continues to perform while splitting time between Texas and Florida as a resident artist in the Central Florida Lyric Opera Training Program. “I’ve been performing in concerts of both opera and Broadway repertoire and working as a singing server in Florida. On March 7 and 8, I performed the role of Winifred in the Austin debut of Mr. Jericho and this June, I will join the company as Wee Jo (Peep-Bo) in The McAdo, a new, Scottish setting of the infamous G&S production, The Mikado.”
For more, visit amyselby.com
This alumni spotlight was originally featured in the March 2020 issue of our alumni newsletter, Wildcat Tracks.